County gets tourism update
He spoke about the success of their visitor guides and the Niagara Now in-room guide, which is placed in every hotel room in the county to inform visitors on where to go or what is going on.
At the information center in Niagara Falls, Percy said 2,700 tours were referred to people coming into the center, with a $280,000 economic impact.
In 2011, a focus on online marketing and social media was also a target for the NTCC. Perry said they received one million “unique” visitors to the site, which was a 6.5 percent increase over 2010. The NTCC also has 15,000 fans on Facebook.
“Online and social media is our strongest tool,” said Percy.
While at trade shows, Percy said there were 173 motor coaches that were interested in Niagara County and 79 groups contacted them directly. In total, for 2011, Percy said there were 690 motor coaches, each spending approximately $9,000. Motor coaches spent an estimated $6.2 million in the county in 2011.
As far as the county’s rate on investment, Percy said in total, visitors spent $215 million in 2011, which he said is a 99 to 1 rate on investment.
He said of all visitors coming into the county, the NTCC touches or works with 48 percent of them.
Legislators asked Percy if other areas of the county besides Niagara Falls — such as Lockport — are represented in their guidebooks and referenced to tourists as a place to visit.
“All areas in Niagara County are treated as equally as they can be,” said Percy. “Lockport is just as important as Niagara Falls or Youngstown or North Tonawanda.”
In other county news:
• Niagara County Clerk Wayne Jagow spoke about the Donate Life program in the county.
He said that Niagara County has been a lead agency with the motor vehicle department for supporting Donate Life, the organ donor program.
“I wish I could say New York took a great lead,” said Jagow.
Only 16 percent of citizens with a driver’s license have registered to be an organ donor, said Jagow.
In Montana and Alaska, 76 percent of their citizens are registered.
New York state falls 49th, in those who are willing to donate.
“That’s a bad, sad commentary of where we are as a great state,” said Jagow.
As part of this program, April is Donate Life month.
Director of Donor Recruitment Amanda Farrell said there are 115,000 people waiting for a transplant and 18 people die each day from not receiving one.
“The need is great and the need is constant,” she said.
Two students from the Lockport High School Donate Life Club spoke about its importance.
Seniors Jenna LaRose and Cassondra Stolzen said they hold a number of events throughout the year to raise awareness and educate the school. Monday through Friday was their annual week where the school holds a blood drive and participates in activities.
“The need continues to grow,” said Legislator Anthony Nemi.
• April is Child Abuse Prevention month, and to honor it, the legislature presented a proclamation. Since 2006, child abuse cases in the county have gone up each year. In March, there were 340 reports throughout the county.
During the meeting, members of the Child Protective Services staff were recognized for their hard work. Members of the legislature were encouraged to wear a blue ribbon and raise awareness.
April 22 to Saturday, April 28, was also Crime Victims Right Week
As part of that, victim advocates, who work in the Niagara County Sheriff’s Department, were recognized.
District Attorney Michael J. Violante said victim advocates work with all victims of crimes, to make sure they are not forgotten.
“Their help is invaluable,” he said.
Victim advocates work with victims to help them with the pain they face and “act as a buffer.” They also work with victims so they are prepared to testify against family, friends or loved ones.
“It’s a tremendous, horrifying situation,” said Violante. “Getting victims close to us is very tough. They help with that and get the victims to cooperate and be willing to prosecute family, friends or loved ones.”
The legislature also presented the victim advocates with a proclamation.